This is not your Italian grandma’s bolognese! Don’t get me wrong, red Italian meat sauces that have ground beef, roasted duck, or wild boar are some of my favorite comfort dishes, but I also find it fun to experiment with these classics and give them a plant-based twist.
Lentils are one of my favorite legumes because of how quickly they cook. I mean, who doesn’t love a bean that requires zero time soaking overnight and they don’t have to boil for hours on end? Plus, they are a convenient package of protein and carbohydrate, and for that reason I’m choosing to serve this hearty bean sauce over spaghetti squash, rather than pasta or alongside another grain. You could by all means serve it over some pappardelle or eat this “chili” style” straight from a bowl too!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups pre-chopped mirepoix (a combo of carrots, onions, celery- I like that Trader Joe’s sells this!)
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup diced cremini mushrooms
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup brown lentils
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of red pepper flake and salt
For garnish: shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.
Add mirepoix and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute 2 minutes.
Pour in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, along with lentils, fennel seed, oregano, and basil. Stir to combine everything together. Cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Taste and add red pepper flake and salt as desired. If sauce is becoming too thick for personal preference, add 1/4 cup of water and simmer for a few more minutes.
Remove from heat and serve over roasted spaghetti squash boats, cooked pasta, or quinoa with some cheese as you like.